Consumer Psychologist Career Information, Jobs, Degrees & Training Programs

Consumer psychologists attempt to understand the various factors influencing consumer behavior. They also work closely with marketing professionals to determine whether marketing campaigns are effectively targeting potential customers. Consumer psychologists typically either attempt to predict or explain consumer behavior.

Consumer psychologists usually possess basic knowledge of cognitive and social psychology, anthropology, economics, advertising, and marketing. This field began to emerge during the 1940's. One of the first recognized consumer psychologists was John B. Watson. Watson organized a successful baby powder advertising campaign for Johnson & Johnson by playing on the emotions of new mothers. His insistence on utilizing emotional appeal became one of the basic foundations of modern consumer psychology.

Consumer psychologists often specialize. Some conduct research about advertising and its impact on consumers, while some specialize in consumer behavior patterns during different life phases, which could include childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Many specialize in how price affects consumer choices.

The following are subfields consumer psychologists can specialize in:
  • Advertising
  • Consumer perception
  • Psychology of price
  • Emotions and purchasing
Careers in Consumer Psychology

Consumer psychologists are employed by companies in the private sector, government agencies, and colleges and universities. If you're creative and like to express it, working in consumer psychology might be an ideal career option, but many people working in this industry get burned out because of the long hours and limited career promotion opportunities. Consumer psychologists holding bachelor's and master's degrees typically work in the private sector, while those holding doctorate degrees often conduct research at universities.

Consumer Psychology Job Duties

Most consumer psychologists gather consumer data, review it, and draw conclusions. However, specific duties vary by work environment. For example, those employed at advertising agencies could develop a survey or organize a focus group to gather data about consumer reactions to a product's price. After reviewing collected data, the consumer psychologist evaluates it, and recommends whether price alterations should be made.

Education and Training

Most consumer psychologists study psychology during college. Many entry-level consumer psychology jobs can be obtained with a bachelor's degree. If you're interested in consumer psychology, enroll in consumer trends, marketing, advertising, and various psychology courses. Cornell University, the University of Nebraska, and Purdue University offer highly regarded consumer psychology degree programs.

You can increase your job opportunities by obtaining a graduate degree in consumer psychology. Most graduate students learn about business management, data analysis, research methodology, and many other subjects. Consumer psychology doctorate degree programs usually emphasize statistics and economics, but career goals should determine your degree focus. If you want to work for a marketing firm or department, it's recommended to have a business background.

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